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Teamster President Banished From Seeking Re-Election

By Frank Swoboda
The Washington Post

Teamsters President Ron Carey was disqualified Monday from seeking re-election by a federal elections officer who concluded that Carey illegally diverted nearly $1 million from the union's general treasury to finance his successful campaign last year against rival James P. Hoffa.

Former U.S. District Judge Kenneth Conboy found that Carey "tolerated and engaged in extensive rules violations" and "misused his union power in the course of the election."

Conboy also implicated the highest ranks of the nation's labor movement - including the AFL-CIO and top officials of the Service Employees International Union and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees - in the efforts to illegally finance Carey's campaign.

The ruling sketches a series of fund-raising schemes in which Carey's campaign aides allegedly approached labor leaders, proposing to swap contributions in efforts to evade campaign finance rules. For example, the judge cites testimony by Carey campaign consultant Martin Davis that AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Richard Trumka agreed to a swap in which the Teamsters would give $150,000 to the AFL-CIO, which would in return give the same amount to Citizen Action, a political organizing group. Citizen Action did receive the money and then gave $100,000 to a consulting group, which used it to pay for a Carey campaign direct-mail drive, said Davis, who has pleaded guilty to criminal wrongdoing in the fund-raising effort.

The events described in Conboy's report constitute the latest setback for the federal government's decades-old efforts to rid the Teamsters of corruption. Carey came to office as the reformer, the candidate who beat the union's Old Guard leadership and brought about major change in the union of Dave Beck, Jimmy Hoffa and Roy Williams. And now the union's old guard leadership, represented by Hoffa's son James P. Hoffa, appears to be once again making a comeback.

Carey said Monday in Washington, "I have done nothing wrong and I will fight this decision until it is overturned." His attorney, Reid Weingarten, called Conboy's decision a "strained and wrongheaded decision that turns justice and common sense on their heads."

Carey has long denied that he knew of or participated in the illegal campaign financing efforts of his aides.